Pulmonary Embolism

By: Maria Granados & Wageha Moktar

What is Pulmonary Embolism?

Blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs.

How is it caused?

It is caused by blood clots that travel from the legs to the lungs. Occurs when blood clots get trapped in an artery in the lung.

Who is most likely to get the disease?

  • Higher risk if family members have had pulmonary embolism
  • Heart disease and cancer put you at higher risk
  • Prolonged immobility (bed rest, long journeys)
  • Surgery
  • Smoking, being overweight, supplemental estrogen, and pregnancy.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Clammy/ disordered skin (cyanosis)
  • Fever, Cough
  • Leg pain or swelling in calf
  • Irregular heartbeat


  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Pulmonary angiogram

How is it treated?

  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants)- Prevent new clots from forming while body recovers
  • Clot dissolvers (thrombolytics)- medication given through vein
  • Surgical procedures- clot removal and vein filter


  • Recovery depends on where the blood clot was located and the size of it.
  • If the surgery goes as planned, people recover well.
  • Some people may die if the blood clot breaks lose
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